BY SAM ALFAN.
Kenya Revenue Authority invited Directorate of Criminal Investigation to investigate claims of money laundering in companies associated with businessman Humphrey Kariuki.
Responding to an application by African Spirits and wow beverages limited, the agency lawyer submitted that they had no experience or powers to investigate cases of money laundering.
When asked by Justice Luka Kimaru how the DCI and Director of Public Prosecutions came into the matter and how charges facing both African Spirit and Wow beverages are tax related matters, KRA lawyer Ochieng told the court that money laundering was outside the agency’s scope.
He told the court that the agency is the complaint and during the investigations they realised that they needed an experienced agency to investigate and prosecuted. He said the two agencies have materials to conduct investigations, which were beyond KRA’s capacity.
“Money laundering is outside the scope of KRA and that is why we asked DCI’s assistance since the office has experience and equipment to investigate such offences,” responded Ochieng.
The agency further told the court that it is within powers of the DCI to file miscellaneous application before a magistrate’s court for preservation of exhibits (money in the banks accounts) since they have capacity to keep the exhibits secure, to avoid them being transferred outside jurisdiction of the court.
“Having passed threshold and territory of tax evasion and that is how we included into the matter, the DCI to preserve money and evidence for us,” added Ochieng.
Ochieng also told the high court that they sought DPP’s assistance in prosecuting the matters which was outside the scope of tax agency.
DPP through senior assistant DPP Catherine Mwaniki told the court that African spirits have directors and shareholders who are interconnected and they are investigating serious offences.
“Investigation of this nature which include 15 intertwined are complex and in the public interest, this court should allow investigators to complete the investigations,” said Mwaniki.
Mwaniki questioned the conduct of Kiambu Magistrate court, setting aside its own orders, claiming that the court had no such powers.
“This has been happening in the magistrate courts and I urge you to make such a finding and vacate orders issued by both the Kiambu and Milimani court”, she submitted.
Earlier prosecution said investigation conducted on African Spirits, Wow Beverages Limited and their associates reveal possibility of money laundering.
In documents filed in court, Director of Public Prosecutions said the investigation is complex in nature because forensic analysis required to be undertaken.
“Taking into consideration of intertwined companies as described in the documents having noted that the DCI and Inspector General accordingly successfully made application before a Kiambu magistrate miscellaneous application dated August 16 with resultant orders that the funds held in the nine accounts at KCB and national be preserved for a period of 90 days”, said the investigating officer.
The document said African Spirits Limited shareholders and directors are signature wines (HL) limited, Golden valley properties limited, Gemtal limited , Claudine Mathis, Lionsbridge Limited, Kigumba limited, Axis logistics limited , Peter Njenga Kuria and Geofrey Kaaria Kinoti Mbabua.
Preliminary investigations have further revealed that that shareholders and directors of all companies named are one and the same persons and are even related.
According to CR13/12 records obtained from the office of Attorney General, the Kigumba limited appearing as a shareholder of African Spirits with one ordinary share, the shareholders and directors are Humphrey Kariuki Ndegwa, Kisima Management Company and Nyawira Wangari Ndegwa.
Billionaire Humphrey Kariuki with others mentioned above are shareholders and directors Axis Logistics limited a company which is a one shareholder of African Spirits Limited. Others people who are shareholders of companies mentioned in the court documents are Stuart Heard Gerald, Robert Ithinji Muriithi and Dennis Muriithi Kimathi.